Monday, January 26, 2009

William Kristol's Last New York Times Column

William Kristol issued his final column for the New York Times today and the collective sigh of relief could be heard across progressive America wherever you stood. However, Kristol, who was most known for being wrong pretty much every time he opened his mouth or put pen to paper, did his best to outdo himself. I suppose he figured since he was going down in flames, he may as well just vomit out any outrageous thing that came to mind.

This one paragraph alone had me in stitches:

Since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, conservatives of various sorts, and conservatisms of various stripes, have generally been in the ascendancy. And a good thing, too! Conservatives have been right more often than not — and more often than liberals — about most of the important issues of the day: about Communism and jihadism, crime and welfare, education and the family. Conservative policies have on the whole worked — insofar as any set of policies can be said to “work” in the real world. Conservatives of the Reagan-Bush-Gingrich-Bush years have a fair amount to be proud of.
Tell me you don't have tears rolling down your cheeks after reading that! He does admit that there have been "some regrets." Really, Bill? Do tell! He doesn't, but qualifies conservative ascendancy was due to the timing of liberalism's weakness in the 60s and 70s.

The main point of his column is the question of whether Obama "can save liberalism." The only reason I know that is because that's the title of his column. There's really nothing in the column to suggest the trouble with liberalism and how it needs saving, despite the fact that the GOP has been trounced in the last two elections. But judging by his track record, the last thing I'd want is any advice from Kristol about anything, especially how to save liberalism.

My other favorite line in this article from the man who was wrong on Iraq every step of the way, goes on to say how Obama's inaugural speech was "unabashedly pro-American and implicitly conservative." Did you expect it to be anti-American? And implicitly conservative? It all depends on how Kristol is defining "conservative," doesn't it? If he's going by the last eight years, then phrases like "we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord" and "We'll restore science to its rightful place"* and "we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals" are a direct repudiation of Kristol's previous "implicitly conservative" administration.

Kristol also seems to have trouble with Obama's only quote not being attributed to Thomas Paine, as if Paine is some kind of pariah and Obama didn't want people to know that it was a quote from "The Crisis."

For some reason, Obama didn’t identify the author of “these timeless words” — the only words quoted in the entire speech. He’s Thomas Paine, and the passage comes from the first in his series of Revolutionary War tracts, “The Crisis.” Obama chose to cloak his quotation from the sometimes intemperate Paine in the authority of the respectable George Washington.
Please, Bill, continue. Are you on to something? Why does Obama do this, Bill? What is your analysis? Of course, Kristol doesn't say. He just let's it hang out there. But that's always been Kristol's modus operandi. Throw something out there that sounds unbecoming, almost insulting, but for no apparent reason except to cast doubt on the subject and perhaps for plausible deniability when he's called on it. Ooh! Paine was "intemperate," calling for revolution against the evil British, and since Obama chose Paine's words, we'll have to keep a keen eye on how he governs. Sometimes I think Kristol literally takes a crap on a sheet of 8½" x 11" paper and turns it in as his op-ed piece.

Today I have a spring in my step, a song in my heart and a smile on my face because this is what I read at the end of Kristol's New York Times op-ed page: "This is William Kristol’s last column." And there was much rejoicing... Hooray!

* On a side note, who thought that they'd ever hear the words, "we'll restore science to its rightful place" coming from the mouth of a US President in 21st century America?

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